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An Overview of Blackout Dates: Why Do They Exist?

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    Jonathan Chum

What are blackout dates? Blackout dates are dates on which you cannot use reward points, miles, or dollars.

If you are anything like me, then you probably travel a lot. One of the ways that you can save money on your travel expenses is to take advantage of reward opportunities. You may use a credit card that provides you with rewards when you travel. You may also have an account with a specific airline. That way, when you rack up miles, you can redeem them for free tickets. Sometimes, you cannot redeem your rewards on certain days if they are blacked out.

Fortunately, we can use all of our experience to provide you with all the information you need to know regarding blackout dates. We are going to cover:

  • How you can know if a date has been blacked out
  • Why airlines black out certain dates
  • How you can use your rewards in other ways
  • Other opportunities to save money on travel expenses

Learn more about blackout dates below!

How Do I Know if a Date Is Blacked Out?

If you are wondering how to figure out if a date has been blacked out, this is relatively straightforward. When you try to use your rewards, whether they are points or miles, you will have to select a date on which you would like to travel. After this, you should be able to see a wide variety of flights along with how many points are miles they are going to cost.

When you click on the calendar button, it is going to ask you to click on a certain day. Or, you can enter the day manually. If you get an error message, or if the date has been grayed out, then there is a good chance that is a blackout date. If you are unsure of what you are looking at, you can always email, message, or call a customer service representative to confirm that is a blackout date. If a date has been blacked out, you will not be able to redeem your rewards for travel on that day.

Why Do Airlines Black Out Dates?

Airlines blackout dates for one reason: they believe this is going to help them make more money. The goal of an airline is to make as much money as possible. After all, it is a business and many airlines are corporations.

Airlines put reward programs in place to encourage you to continue traveling with them, specifically. Even though Airlines lose money when you book a plane ticket for free, they believe they are going to make more money than they lose if the reward program incentivizes you to travel with them.

On blackout dates, Airlines believe there is going to be such a demand for their services that they are not going to lose money if they black out that date to reward travelers. Furthermore, they are actually going to make more money because the demand for that date is so high, they can increase their prices.

For example, the day before Thanksgiving is famous for being one of the biggest travel days of the year. There is a good chance that this is going to be a blackout date because airlines know they are going to be able to fill their plans even if they do not allow people to redeem their rewards.

Can I Use my Rewards in Other Ways?

Even if you are specific date has been blacked out, there are other ways you can use your rewards. For example, if you are trying to book a plane ticket using a reward credit card, you may be able to use your points to book a hotel room instead.

Or, if you have flexible travel plans, you may be able to redeem your miles for a flight on a different day. That way, you can still get your free plane ticket even if your original date has been blacked out.

Finally, you can also simply wait and use your rewards later. If you do not need to travel immediately, you may want to adjust your travel plans for a few weeks or months from now. Then, your requested date might not be blacked out.

How Else Can I Save Money on Travel?

Redeeming miles or points for a free plane ticket is a great way for you to save money on travel expenses. There are a few other ways that you can reduce your travel expenses as well. Some options include:

In addition to having a frequent flyer account, you should try to take advantage of credit cards that also provide you with rewards when you travel. That way, you will be able to redeem miles through your frequent flyer account and points through your credit card.

You should try to book your plane tickets as early as possible. The earlier you book your plane ticket, the lower the price is going to be, in general.

The same is true for redeeming your rewards. If you are concerned about blackout dates, you should try to redeem your rewards far in advance. That way, you may be able to book a plane ticket before the date gets blacked out.

You should also think about how you travel. Sometimes, you have to pay money to check bags. In other situations, basic economy may be an option. Thinking about these two choices ahead of time can help you save a few extra dollars on your travel expenses.

Be Mindful of Blackout Dates

Reward points and miles are great ways for you to save money on your travel expenses. On the other hand, you may run into blackout dates from time to time. These are dates when you cannot redeem your rewards. Airlines blackout dates because they think they will still be able to fill up their planes even if they block people from using rewards. Plan in advance if you would like to save money on your travel expenses.